Cheddar & Herb Cheese Straws
These crisp and flaky cheese straws specked with fresh herbs and crushed red chili flakes make a wonderful hors d’oeuvre to go along with wine and cocktails, and they’re also delicious with a bowl of tomato or vegetable soup. Though they look like bread sticks, they’re actually more akin to savory pie crust or pastry. I find them wildly addictive, and just plain fun to serve. (Thanks to my dear friend Kelly Santoro for the recipe!)
As you can see, the ingredients are very basic. No need to spend a lot on the cheese; here, I’ve used a brand from Whole Foods but I’ve also had excellent results with Cabot, which is widely available in most grocery stores. For the herbs, I like a combination of rosemary and thyme but you can use anything you like — or even omit them.
Begin by combining the grated cheese, flour, salt, red chili flakes and herbs in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
Process until the mixture looks like coarse meal.
Add the cold butter and process until the mixture is crumbly with pea-size bits of butter within.
Add the cream.
And pulse until the dough clumps together in a mass.
Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and dust the dough with flour.
Knead the dough until it comes together and shape into a rectangle about an inch high; then, cut in half.
Roll each block of dough into an 8×10-inch rectangle.
Trim the edges, then use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Try to be fairly accurate: if they are too thick, they won’t crisp up; if they are too thin, they’ll break.
Transfer the dough strips to a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about a 1/4-inch between them.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden on top and a rich golden color on the bottom (see below — the first three cheese straws are flipped over).
Let cool on a rack, then transfer to a plate to serve.
Southern Cheddar & Herb Cheese Straws
- 8 ounces (2 packed cups) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with knife, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Scant teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1-1/2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary and/or thyme
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Set two oven racks in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cheese, flour, salt, red pepper flakes and herbs. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Cut the butter into 1/2-inch chunks and add to the flour/cheese mixture. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with some pea-size clumps of butter within. Add the heavy cream and pulse until the mixture starts to clump together into a mass.
- Lightly flour a work surface and dump the dough on top. Dust the top of the dough with flour and use your hands to shape into a rectangle about 1-inch high. Cut the rectangle in half.
- Dust the work surface with more flour and roll each block of dough into a 8 x 10-inch rectangle about 1/8-inch thick (turn the dough as you go and add more flour as necessary so it doesn't stick). Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, trim the edges straight without sacrificing too much dough, then cut the dough into thin strips about 1/4-inch wide. Transfer the strips to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about a 1/4-inch of space between them. Bake the straws for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden on top and a rich golden color on the bottom, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back midway through. Remove from the pans from the oven and set on a rack to cool. Carefully transfer the cheese straws to a plate and serve.
- Note: The cheese straws will keep well in a covered container for a few days.
- Serving size: 1 cheese straw
- Calories: 50
- Fat: 4g
- Saturated fat: 2g
- Carbohydrates: 3g
- Sugar: 0g
- Fiber: 0g
- Protein: 1g
- Sodium: 69mg
- Cholesterol: 11mg
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